Global English, hegemony and education: Lessons from Gramsci

Educational Philosophy and Theory 41 (6):661-683 (2009)
Abstract
Antonio Gramsci and his concept of hegemony are often invoked in current debates concerning cultural imperialism, globalisation and global English. However, these debates are rarely cognizant of Gramsci's own university training in linguistics, the centrality of language to his writings on education and hegemony, or his specific engagement with language politics in his own day. By paying much greater attention to Gramsci's writings on language and education, this article attempts to lay the groundwork for an adequate approach to the current politics of global English. While Gramsci may have left formal education and his studies in linguistics at Turin University as a young man to become a full time journalist and political activist, he certainly did not 'jettison' his study of language as is commonly implied. It has been widely accepted that Gramsci had an expansive conception of education which would curtail any suggestion that 'education' must be limited to formal schooling or university. Likewise, this article demonstrates the importance of Gramsci's lifelong analysis of language, its role in education and the development of hegemony. It argues that Gramsci's writings on language policy in Italy, specifically la questione della lingua [the language question] and his concern with linguistics, are an integral part of his approach to education and hegemony.
Keywords hegemony  language politics  language and education  Gramsci  global English  linguistic imperialism
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